It’s this time of the year again. The date on the calendar is reading a mixed sense of anxiety and hope. Another year has passed, are we closer to the things we want or further? At this time of the year, we seem to always secretly think that “let’s just get it over with”, wishing that a change of vintage would just miraculously write things over.
In a nutshell, I am actually quite happy with my 2019. It’s probably the one year that I spent the most alone time in my life. I traveled by myself four times throughout the year, two of them profoundly changed my perspectives — a 6-day unplugged silent retreat in Bali and a long-overdue first trip to Paris. I got a new job, made more money. I reignited an old passion for piano. I took my body serious and trained hard. It’s a year I didn’t share myself with anyone. A year I fully retreated to the basics. A year I worked hard to make me re-like myself.
Last time this year, I was alone in Bali. I didn’t intend to be alone. (Even for me, someone who travels solo all the time, I still would prefer to be not alone for that time of the year.) But I didn’t really have a choice. My relationship ended before the trip I planned with my ex so I had to go by myself.
I booked a volcano sunrise tour for Jan 1st, so I celebrated new year’s eve by dining alone at 5pm in the best restaurant in Ubud center and went to bed at 9pm. I woke up at 2:30am the next day, a tour guide picked me up and drove me to the volcano area. It was a long drive, we chitchatted a little bit. I looked out the window at the moon, feeling both sleepy and nervous, for I really dreaded climbing a mountain and I knew it’d kill me for my pathetic level of muscle strength. I started to climb up following a local guide in pure darkness. It was slowly lighting up. People passed ahead of me one after another while I was panting like a cow. It was as tough as I imagined, if not more. By the time we arrived at the peak, the first sunbeam of 2019 was out. It’s hard to describe how I felt at that moment. I was both exhausted and excited. I had no one to share the excitement with. I remember thinking to myself: it’s not that scary, isn’t it? (I was wrong, it was really scary going down the hill.)
When I was back to ground level alive after scratching and scrambling and cursing my way down the hill, I posted on Instagram and said: “I reckon there’s no better new year present than this, stronger legs, stronger heart.”
Looking back, I do believe I have lived up to my own expectations this year.
A few days ago I realized I sort of made a list of resolutions sometime last year. So I dug it out and did a self-review. The result, surprisingly, is only 50% disappointing. Attaching it below for everyone’s entertainment. (I wrote it in Chinese originally, so I’m keeping the Chinese and giving a quick translation in English.)
New Year Resolution 2019:
狠狠加大阅读量。不是for pleasure only的阅读量，是真正通过量变达到质变的阅读量。每天集中时段阅读一小时以上。每本new yorker至少读2篇（不包括shouts and murmurs). 确保身边永远有书可看 。
Read, a lot, not for pleasure only, but read to the extent that qualitative change happens. Read one hour everyday. Read at least 2 articles in every issue of New Yorker.(excluding shouts and murmurs). Make sure there’s always a book around.
Review: Failed. Stopped reading books after Paris. And only read New Yorker occasionally.
Write. Except essay and diary, try to write a short story every month.
Review: 80% on target. Didn’t manage to make progress on short story.
显著减少社交网络使用。social networking screentime降至1.5hr以下。有意识地养成每天只在固定时间（如午饭、 晚饭等）看社交网络的习惯。
Significantly cut down on social mediating. Keep social network screentime under 1.5 hour a day. Develop a habbit to only look at SNS at particular times in a day (eg lunch, dinner).
Review: hmmmmm. pretty much failed. my phone addiction is more serious than ever – I blame it on the new iPhone 11pro.
每周健身3次——yoga、fitness、boxing。夏天学paddling。养成在家可以做的30分钟routine。 Three times of fitness activity a week. Learn paddling in summer. Develop a 30-minute home workout routine.
Review: 80% on target. didn’t learn paddling. didn’t do any home workout – too busy ordering chicken nuggets. But training has become a core part of my daily routine and I have developed a mental need for it.
Play the guitar for 30 mins every day. One new song a month.
Review: On target, except that guitar is replaced by piano now.
减少看电视时间，美剧一天最多只能看一集，whatever that is。每周可有一天chill day。
Cut back on watching tv. One episode a day at most, whatever that is. One chill day a week (means free pass on TV).
Review: hmmm. I did watch less…. but sometimes before I reachded the controler to press “stop” the next espide has already begun. I blame Neftlix for leaving too little mental struggling time for viewers.
生物钟目标：12点睡，7点起。早上预留一小时时间做以上任何一件事，如阅读、瑜伽、吉他。 Schedule goal: bed at 12, up at 7. Leave one hour in the morning to do anything mentioned above: read, yoga, guitar.
Review: 100% failed.
消费及存款目标：减少可有可无的消费。普通衣物购买准则：买一件新衣服，就要舍弃一件旧衣物。每个月可以买一件pricey & timeless piece。每个月平均存1/3收入。
Consumption and saving goal: cut down on Latte factors. Principle of buying clothes: an old piece has to go to make room for every new piece. Can buy one pricey and timeless piece a month. Save 1/3 of salary at least.
Review: Beating the target thanks to my one year clothes shopping hiatus pledge.
Diet goal: no carbs for dinner. Learn 3 dishes that I can cook myself (excluding frozen dumplings). Use the juicer frequently.
Review: pretty much failed. I need to eat heathier.
Master the skill of spending quality time alone. Make plan and set a goal for every big chunk of alone time. Remember being alone doesn’t mean slack.
Review: 50% on target. There are ups and downs.
1 – 对新事物保持开放态度。Keep an open attitude to anything NEW.
2 – 减少成见、偏见、不在不了解对方时stereotype任何人。Hold back on prejudice. Never stereotype anyone before knowing them.
3 – 建立positive perspective. Establish a positive perspective.
4 – Don’t be petty.
5 – 在亲密关系中做到坦诚。过没有谎言的生活。Be honest in any intimate relationship. Live life without lies.
Review: can do better on no.2.
This will also be my last post this year. I appreciate everyone who has ever visited this place and spent time reading my thoughts. Resuming writing, out of everything, is the most meaningful move for me in 2019. A friend asked me earlier this year that “what do you like about writing?” It got me in the first few seconds. I don’t think anyone has asked me that before. After thinking for a while, I told him “I write to help myself. It’s a therapeutic process for me.” I guess people write for different reasons. And I, for one, write for very selfish reasons, and will probably continue to write for this reason only. But I believe every writer writes in the hope to reach someone, anyone, a potential reader, a potential reader that can resonate. Knowing there are people reading, does make me feel less lonely.
Thanks for reading and happy new year.